Melissa d’Arabian, winner of the fifth season of The Next Food Network Star, and is the host of Food Network’s Ten Dollar Dinners, has just released Ten Dollar Dinners: 140 Recipes and Tips to Elevate Simple, Fresh Meals Any Night of the Week.
As a new bride I remember my mom telling me “dinner should not cost more than $5”. I lived that mantra for decades, then food costs increased, as did my family. Several months ago, my mom and I revisited this advice and agreed dinner could be nutritious, easy and still offer variety in the price range of ten dollars. Melissa d’Arabian is proving it recipe after recipe in her cookbook!
If you’re not familiar with d’Arabian she’s thrifty! Two years ago she was featured on The Early Show, in a segment named, Thanksgiving Dinner on a Shoestring. During this segement d’Arabian was given the challenge of feeding eight guests with a budget of $80. Most of us would have stood with jaw agape and flustered before we even pulled out the turkey. Not, d’Arabian, her holiday menu included a roasted garlic-scented turkey with garlic scented stuffing, yam-marbled 2-in-1 mashed potatoes, sautéed red cabbage and apples with fennel, and a kale salad with spiced pecans. Yeah, I would have been impressed as her guest!
One of the things I love about this cookbook is that it is written by a woman, who like me has children (she has four young daughters) and believes food is an expression of our love and a great way to spend quality time together.
She shares who inspired who inspired her to create recipes and cook:
My mom! She wasn’t the most gourmet cook, but she showed me what a joy cooking for loved ones could be. When I was five my mom started a tradition of having moms and daughters over for hot cocoa and cookies. That gathering grew over the years into a full-fledged annual party which we called our Mother-Daughter Tea. That was where I first fell in love with cooking for loved ones. (And by the way, I carry the tradition on with my own girls!)
When I asked d’Arabian, “If you could make only one meal from your book, Ten Dollar Dinners, which would you choose and why?” There was no surprise in her selection.
“Potato Bacon Torte, because it reminds me of my mother in law, and I think it won me my spot in the Food Network Star finale; Café Green Salad because it is a perfect complement to the rich torte; and I’d finish with Earl Grey Pots de Crème. I love the creaminess and that bergamot aroma!”
The Potato Bacon Torte (page 348), just happens to be the central point from the first episode of her show, Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d’Arabian. It truly has a Parisian feel to it. Imagine a creamy potato bacon torn accompanied by Paris Café Green Salad with Classic Dijon Vinaigrette (pg. 90), summed up with an classic apple tart (pg. 290). It’s all possible with Ten Dollar Dinners!
Throughout the cookbook, d’Arabian highlights tips and advice that are practical. I learned that you can freeze egg whites, but they won’t be usable for meringue. There’s more practicality between the pages that will make you stop and wonder why you didn’t think of it, or nod your head with pride and say, “I do that!”
Ten Dollar Dinners is a practical resource. It’s not a cookbook where you have to scour for something that remotely resembles something you would serve everyday, or so technical you cringe at the thought of trying it. All these recipes are easy, with easy to find ingredients, simple, clear steps that will have your family raving and have you sitting down to enjoy your creation with your family.
So? Let’s talk about the ten dollar budget. The calculation is using the actual amount of food used and assumes you have many of the ingredients in your pantry–things like flour, eggs, seasonings, etc. I took that conversation my mom and I had and I asked d’Arabian, “With food prices continuing to increase, what is one tip to help Mom’s be savvy in keeping a dinner at ten dollars?”
At the grocery store, load up first in the produce aisle. Focus on what’s in season, which is typically what is in abundance and on sale! Studies have shown that we fill up empty carts, so get that cart partially filled with seasonal (read: inexpensive!) produce so that you are less tempted to fill your cart with pricier processed foods.
It’s practical advice that delivers tasty and healthy options to your weekly menu.
This is a great book. It offers variety, ease in preparation and utilizes many, many items the reader will have on hand in their own kitchen. It would make an excellent cookbook for someone off to live on their own, a bride to be or someone, like me, who just wants to add variety to their menu and still keep a budget. I recommend this book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”.